Holy Smokes | The YogaTherapies Guide to Cleansing Space and Smudging.
The regular and ritual cleansing of ourselves and the spaces we live and work in can be a powerful practice to remove stagnant, dense or unwanted energy and to invite or return to vibrant, flowing energy and abundance.
The benefits are especially pronounced at times of change, or desired change such as looking for or moving into a new home or workplace, the beginning and end of relationships, and any time where transition, support or simply fresh energy is desired.
Before starting shower, or wash your face and hands. Clean and de-clutter the space, and where possible open the doors and windows so that air can circulate.
Smudging uses plant medicines or resins such as frankincense, palo santo or white sage to purify the air and energy. The lightness of the smoke attaches to dense, heavy or “stuck” energy and restores it to its fluid and vital state. Smudging materials like sage and palo santo are considered masculine in nature, or as relating to Purusa, Shiva or pure consciousness. We move away from notions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ energy and instead clear ALL energy to create a fresh canvas.
White Sage derives from the Latin “Salvia” meaning “to heal” and is most notable for its presence in Native American and Latin American Shamanic traditions. When using sage it is tradition to use an abalone shell and a birds feather. As well as being a handy ash catcher, the shimmering interior of the shell represents the water element. The unlit herbs represent the element of earth, and when lit fire. The smoke symbolises the element of air and the guiding waft of the feather ether or spirit. In this way the total cycle of energy and the natural world is respected in the ceremony.
Frankincense was first used in ancient Egypt and holds a prominent position in ceremonies worldwide. It is believed to assist in the removal of obstructive energies, provide protection and enhance spiritual awareness. NB// If you are using resins to clear space you will also need charcoal blocks to burn and sand to
Palo Santo meaning Holy Wood has its roots in the indigenous Amazonian traditions, and additional to its cleansing properties claims a spiritual protection, as it helps to clarify, to set and to seal your intentions. It has a softer, sweeter smell than the herby strength of sage, and is burned as a wood, as opposed to sage where the leaves are burned. It burns slowly, and in small doses, making it better suited to personal rituals, whereas the quick burning and expansive nature of sage make it appropriate for large and even open spaces.
Light the sage or frankincense, begin at the main entrance of the space and move around fanning the smoke towards the walls and corners and into closets and cupboards.
The intention of your cleansing may also determine the direction you move the smoke. Moving clockwise is said to be more effective at manifesting new energy, or “bringing in”, whilst moving counterclockwise helps to fully open the energy body and thus facilities release or “moving out” of energy.
Once you have completed a round with the white sage or frankincense, light the palo santo and complete a second round following the same route.
Part 2. The Maintaining.
Fill four containers with a natural crystalline salt, such as a rock or sea salt and place them in the four corners of the space where they will continue to absorb and clean any remaining energy. Where the crystals of the salt intact they maintain a higher vibrance and therefore are a more potent tool. The containers can be left for a couple of days and should be changed whenever the space is cleansed again
Part 3. The Sealing
Seal your ritual by lighting incense, reciting a mantra, or chiming a singing bowl or high frequency bell. You may also like to add an intention or affirmation here. Incense is considered feminine in nature, relating to the nurturing qualities of the manifest world or Prakriti and the dynamism of Shakti, with different aromas invoking different qualities and energies.
Sandalwood is our favourite incense to use at the YogaTherapies studios . Sandalwood, especially of Indian origin due to its high levels and purity of oil content, has long been considered sacred. Temple doors are carved from it, as are the intricate carved surroundings and figurines that adorn shrines and homes. As a paste it is used to anoint the forehead in Hindu traditions and in its oil form it is one of the main components of Ayurvedic healing, its use as an antiseptic has been identified in many folk healing traditions, and even as far as ancient Egypt it was a key element of embalming rituals. More recently studies suggest that sandalwood smoke is capable of removing large quantities of microbial impurities in the air.
In Buddhism sandalwood is heralded as the perfect aid to meditation and inquiry, claiming the ability to stimulate the senses, invoke trust and self-belief whilst fostering groundedness, enthusiasm and ultimately tranquility - perfect for setting the scene for a yoga class!
Cleansing A Person
Stand facing east, symbolic of new beginnings and fresh horizons.
Light the white sage and or frankincense resin, and either waft the smoke over and around the individual including the soles of the feet, or, if cleansing yourself stand over the shell or bowl and allow the smoke to naturally rise over you.
Seal with a mantra or affirmation and add essential oils to the pulse points on the wrists.
Please note, it is not advised to cleanse during pregnancy, nor is it advisable for young children and babies, nor should pregnant women or young children and babies be present when cleansing is in process.
And don’t forget… sustainability.
Sadly, global knowledge of, and the resultant demand for these holy plants has resulted in a move to mass production that has overstretched and endangered these plants whilst over ruling the ancient and deeply reverential methods for their harvesting.
It is important that we are cautious of the sources, and are sparing and considerate with our usage. Cleansing is intended as a meaningful experience and not as a novelty. Always ensure you purchase your products from a company that uses only sustainable resources (if you are UK based check out sacredessence.co.uk).